According to a 2013 Barna Group study, of the 41 percent of American men and women who self-identify as Christians, only “14 percent emulate the actions and attitudes of Jesus.” I find that statistic both sobering—because so few seem to take God’s call to holiness seriously—and curious—because why would we not want to become like Jesus when true spiritual transformation improves every aspect of our lives, including how we age?
A Tale of Two Women
Before my husband and I got married, he lived in a second-floor apartment owned by an elderly woman. Throughout the day, he could hear Mabel singing as she puttered around beneath him. Anytime he needed affirmation or encouragement, he would walk in her always-unlocked door for a visit. Mabel was deaf because she contracted the measles in her 20s and had been unable to bear children. Additionally, she spent her last 10 years as a widow. Her life had not been easy, and yet she embraced each day as a gift.
Like Mabel, Mary was another woman we knew who also lost her husband prematurely. Unlike Mabel, she had birthed and raised two sons, both of whom had done well in their careers and in their marriages. Not infrequently, Mary expressed anger and bitterness toward her deceased husband, her daughter-in-law, and her neighbors for (in her opinion) failing her. Where my husband always walked away from Mabel’s feeling encouraged and full of joy, he emerged from Mary’s drained and grouchy.1